The strong winds off the Atlantic Ocean could become a cost-effective way to power much of the East Coast — especially North and South Carolina, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia, a new study released Tuesday says.
The report by the conservation advocacy group Oceana argues that offshore wind could generate 30 percent more electricity on the East Coast than could be generated by the region's untapped oil and gas. It predicts that wind from the ocean could be cost competitive with nuclear power and natural gas to produce electricity.
The study appears just as new developments are starting to push U.S. efforts to catch up with Europe and China on tapping the energy in offshore wind. Great Britain last week opened the world's largest wind farm, and China built its first pilot offshore wind farm in 2008, using turbines from the nation's largest wind turbine producer, Sinovel.
The Department of Energy earlier this month issued a draft plan for creating a U.S. offshore wind energy program.
"Offshore wind energy can help the nation reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, diversify its energy supply, provide cost-competitive electricity to key coastal regions, and stimulate economic revitalization of key sectors of the economy," the study says.
The nation's first offshore wind farm, Cape Wind in Massachusetts, has received all its permits, but is embroiled in lawsuits. Three offshore wind projects are in the permitting process — one off Rhode Island's Block Island, another off Atlantic City, N.J., and a third off Rehoboth Beach, Del. A pilot project is planned in Lake Erie, off Cleveland.